For Kelly Slater, Fiji was love at first surf. His first trip there was more than two decades ago, when he was 18, and that devotion hasn't wavered. This year, he wrote a love letter in the form of sponsorship, as his clothing company, Outerknown, took the helm alongside the WSL in bringing the event to life. In this video, Slater shares a snapshot of his early days at Tavarua, and opines on his mixed competitive results there in recent years. This past week for example, he went home with a measley 13th-place finish, thanks to the Round Three handiwork of Connor O'Leary, the eventual contest runner-up. But the year before, he came this close to winning the event for the fifth time -- until, he says, "something just changed. Everyone starts a heat a certain way, you react in a certain way, and it's a battle back and forth. It's not unlike a fight.
"I'm always picturing it in that way, what is the pace of this fight? What's going to dictate how this heat's won?...It's fitting this whole recipe together in the right flow during 30 minutes is what becomes successful."
At 45, even with his 11 world titles and more than 50 Championship Tour wins Slater knows the importance of learning how to take a loss...even a disappointing one. "We all want to go out there and win everything -- that's what's in your heart as a competitor. But, you also have to be totally at peace with having a loss, too, and be comfortable with that and be able to process it, move on and not worry about it."
Catch Slater next at the Corona Open J-Bay, July 12 - 23.